The murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi stands as one of the most heinous, shocking and downright frightening developments of the past several years...and that's saying a lot. In "Kingdom of Silence," a new documentary from Showtime that can actually be watched in its entirety - for free on YouTube (see below) - may be one of the most important documentaries you will see all year, spending needed time on an event that modern cable news simply didn't seem to have time to explain properly.
Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist who also worked for The Washington Post, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2nd, 2018, and was never seen again. Over a month later, the CIA and other international authorities concluded that Saudi Arabian's sitting crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered Khashoggi's assassination as part of a broader attempt to squash any independent, dissenting voices against the Saudi "government."
Security camera footage and audio recordings from inside the consulate reveal that it wasn't a quick death. Khashoggi was brutally murdered, his body cut up and dismembered, and removed from the premises in large trash bags by Saudi hitmen sent to Istanbul for one purpose: To eliminate Jamal Khashoggi.
The Trump administration looked the other way. A dastardly, cowardly response, but when American-Saudi relationship history is explained as it is in this documentary, it's hardly a shocking one.
"Kingdom of Silence" spends very little time on the actual circumstances and fall-out of Khashoggi's murder, focusing most of its time on context...a lost art in the field of mass media and investigative journalism these days. As it explains, America has long been supportive of Saudi Arabia for political reasons, having nearly nothing else in common other than a shared interest in defeating Russia in Afghanistan in the late 70s and 80s.
As a close friend and supporter of Osama bin Laden at that time, Khashoggi grew increasingly distant as he saw his old friend change into the radical leader of al Qaeda. Khashoggi walked a very fine line as a progressive voice who also held a certain level of respect and esteem with the Saudi crown family. That is, until the Mohammed bin Salman era began and voices like Khashoggi's began being routinely silenced.
The documentary contains archived interviews with Khashoggi, and also spends a great deal of time on his personal life, and how some of his romantic relationships became entangled in his political ones. While "Kingdom of Silence" does a great job in setting the stage for his disappearance, it would have been even more effective had it put into context exactly why his murder has meaning, and the political fall-out of the American-Saudi relationship being tested as it never quite has before.
This documentary is available for free on YouTube, in the player below.
Run Time: 1 hour 38 minutes.
Directed by Rick Rowley ("Dirty Wars").
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